What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that can affect many parts of the body. Common amongst women in their teens and 30s, it is an affliction that can produce different side effects, but may be difficult for doctors to diagnose on the basis of symptoms alone. We tell you what is lupus including prognosis and treatment.

Introduction to the disorder

There are many forms of lupus, but the most prevalent are the following:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

This is a form of lupus that can affect the kidneys, joints, blood vessel walls and mucous membrane of the body. In essence, it is a chronic inflammation of the connective tissue. Round, red bumps appear on the skin. Scaling, scarring and hair loss will occur. The disorder might have an impact on the organs of the body, but the symptoms are generally considered mild.

  • Discoid lupus erythematosus

Lupus that takes on this form will only affect the skin of the person.

To fully comprehend what is lupus, you have to be know the symptoms which might be difficult to diagnose at a first glance. However, doctors and health practitioners typically look for the following signs:

  • Fever

Although symptoms vary form one person to another, a person with lupus will develop a sudden fever. Over time, usually months, there will be flare-ups. The affected patient will feel unwell.

  • Headaches

Headaches resembling to migraines will be felt as well as epilepsy and even psychosis.

  • Joint pain

Pain of the joints will occur with intensity ranging from mild (confined to a few joints) to multiple (affecting several joints at the same time).

  • Rashes

There will be red butterfly-shaped rashes on the face and cheeks and other parts of the body.

  • Kidney malfunction

If lupus is fatal, there will be proteins in the urine and the kidneys will not work well.

Other symptoms include low white blood cell count, positive blood test result for antinuclear antibodies and antibodies to ‘double stranded DNA’. If any four of the above symptoms are spotted during a physical examination and blood works, then a person is confirmed to be suffering from the disorder.

Treatment for lupus

It’s not enough to define what is lupus. You also have to know the treatment options. Once diagnosis is confirmed, treatment is directed at the affected parts and organs of the body. Mild conditions might require little or no medical intervention at all apart from the use of aspirin and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Severe lupus will be treated with a corticosteroid such as prednisone.

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